Saturday, March 18, 2006

Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships

Age of Bronze is a comic book epic story depicting the events of the Trojan War. A tale masterfully woven by creator Eric Shanower, the first book of the series entitled "A Thousand Ships" (the book opens with dialogue from Doctor Faust, in which is said "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships" in reference to Helen of Troy, whom the Trojan War was fought over) illustrates the events that lead up to the war. I'm a big fan of mythology and this didn't disappoint, despite the fact that I've read about the Trojan War several times through college. Familiar events unfold in this story (although some things I didn't recall ever having read) to remarkably realistic and beautifully-detailed art. This is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. No doubt about it. In a story where there are a lot of word balloons discussing negotiations and the like, Shanower still manages to make it look wonderful and keep things interesting. And when he does let loose with a breath-taking scene of a hillside or a city in all its glory, it truly is breath-taking. There is a lot going on here, however, and there are plenty of people to keep track of, but I was able to keep track of it without a problem, so I'm not really complaining about that aspect of the story. I would advise that anyone taking this masterpiece on, to pay close attention. A dozen stories featuring different characters take place in order for things to fall together to lead to the war. The main thrust of the story involves Meneleus' coming home to find his wife Helen taken from him and his residence sacked, whereupon his nation eventually retaliates in the form of a bloody war. One interesting aspect of this book is that Eric Shanower decided not to depict the gods in the book. A valid choice, but one I'm not sure I'm very fond of. I respect his choice to make the book as grounded as possible, but what can I say? I like seeing gods and goddesses doing magic. His decision to carry things out in this manner affected how he told the story, of course. In the afterward, Shanower talks about how he had to illustrate key scenes (like where the three goddesses fight for Paris' vote as fairest, resulting in Aphrodite's gift of Helen's love) in creative ways to leave out the gods' images. On top of that, there are many stories and sources that touch on the Trojan War and Shanower had to pick and choose the most vital parts of the story, as well as deal with discrepencies in age and such, to make it all fit into one cohesive whole. Eric Shanower does an amazing job with this book and you would be doing yourself a great service in picking this up.

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